A Little Bit About Baby Sleep

As you get older you sleep less and less. Babies need the most sleep of all and on average babies up to three months old will require twice as much sleep as their parents. Unfortunately this is not in one nice long stretch during the night because they need to wake to feed. On average, you will probably find that your baby will sleep in blocks of 2 hours during the day and then 4 to 6 hours at night before waking to feed. From about three months to twelve, you will thankfully find that your little one will sleep longer during the night and less in the day. By six months of age your baby’s daytime naps will be less frequent and stretch a bit longer so usually two 1-2 hour naps. At this age you should be able to enjoy about 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. It is a good idea to try and manage your baby’s naps during the day so that you are more likely to have longer spells of sleep without interruptions during the night. It is wise to try and allow napping earlier in the day so that she has lots of experiences stocked up before she goes to sleep at night as this is what she dreams of; what has happened during the day. This ‘dream filing’ is all the stimulation she has experienced so if she naps too late in the day she will use up all the files before she goes to bed at night and this can cause her to wake too soon. Her main naps should be late morning or early afternoon. If she naps after lunch, make sure there is a substantial gap without napping before bedtime in the evening. After three months your baby will need to begin to shut down her digestive system at night and then wake in the morning for breakfast, just as us adults do. It is good to start getting her out of the habit of feeding in the night as this can confuse her digestive system. It is the sucking that settles and soothes her rather than the milk. It can be difficult for her little digestive system to cope with lots of milk in the night from this age onwards. A practical way of managing this if you are breastfeeding is to feed her earlier on in the evening or at the start of her bedtime routine. If you are bottle-feeding, steadily decrease the amount of formula she has in her last feed and you can add it to the daytime feeds. A bedtime routine can then take place after the feed like bathing, night clothes, cuddle and lullaby rather than going to bed on a very full tummy. Bear in mind that it is wise to start letting your baby fall off to sleep on her own rather than staying with her. If she associates you with going to sleep she will cry for you when she rouses in the night rather than dropping off back into sleep on her own. Give her a kiss goodnight and leave the room. If you have to, pop in intermittently with calming tones and pats until she falls asleep. By Eirian Hallinan